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What is Naturopathy?

Updated on September 18, 2011

Dictionary entries define naturopathy as “a system of medicine based on the healing power of nature” or “a system of alternative medicine based on the theory that diseases can be treated or prevented without drugs by techniques such as diet and exercise.”

A more, in-depth definition is that naturopathy uses many different modalities, such as herbal medicine, vitamin and mineral supplementation, nutritional healing (changes in diet), and lifestyle changes, in order to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Naturopathy literally means “nature cure,” and it is a philosophy of medicine that has existed for more than 2,000 years, since the time of Hippocrates.It has also been referred to as alternative medicine, integrative medicine, complimentary medicine, etc.

If you think Naturopathic Medicine is Unproven, …Think Again. Here are a few facts you probably already know about Naturopathy:

Broccoli Sprouts have scientifically proven anti-cancer properties (Nutritional Healing)
Broccoli Sprouts have scientifically proven anti-cancer properties (Nutritional Healing)
Lemongrass has scientifically proven anti-cancer properties (Botanical Medicine)
Lemongrass has scientifically proven anti-cancer properties (Botanical Medicine)
The Exclusion of Tobacco and Elimination of Red Meat Lessens the Incidence of Cancer (Lifestyle and Diet Changes)
The Exclusion of Tobacco and Elimination of Red Meat Lessens the Incidence of Cancer (Lifestyle and Diet Changes)
High Fiber Foods to Combat Diabetes and Cancer, (Nutritional Healing)
High Fiber Foods to Combat Diabetes and Cancer, (Nutritional Healing)
Calcium and Vitamin D Prevent Osteoporosis (Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation)
Calcium and Vitamin D Prevent Osteoporosis (Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation)
Several trials indicate that Migraine Patients Benefit from Acupuncture (Acupuncture)
Several trials indicate that Migraine Patients Benefit from Acupuncture (Acupuncture)

Naturopathy vs. Traditional Medicine

Whereas traditional medicine focuses on prescribing drugs to suppress symptoms, naturopathic medicine focuses on isolating the root cause of symptoms, in order to find natural methods to combat the cause and extinguish the symptoms.

Most people would agree that traditional patient care is heavily focused upon “drug management.”Think about it… when a patient visits a doctor to report a symptom, the normal process is for the physician to prescribe a drug for the problem, and if the patient experiences a side effect to the drug, the doctor will prescribe something else.

When an individual visits a naturopathic doctor, the first noticeable difference is the collection of an extensive medical history.This is required because the naturopathic doctor will need to act as a detective, in order to identify the root cause of the symptoms.

An extensive medical history will give the naturopathic doctor a solid background to begin the search for the cause.

Once the cause is isolated, the physician can map out a plan to attack the cause with natural methods that will ultimately stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself - if you treat the root cause of the problem, the symptoms will lessen, improve, or disappear.

Each patient’s map to healing will be different, because no two people are exactly the same, even though they might have the same illness.

Patient Education (Health Promotion is the Best Prevention… )

A naturopathic doctor’s main goal is to educate the patient.Their job is to teach the patient to recognize that symptoms are early warning signs that the body is not functioning properly.

Once the patient realizes that something is out of balance, the next move is to address the issue with lifestyle changes, nutritional changes, and homeopathic methods in order to avoid chronic disease.

The goal of naturopathic medicine is not to compete with, or replace traditional medicine.Instead, both types of medical professionals should work hand in hand with each other, so that an individual can experience total and complete medical care.

In a perfect world, each individual would have access to a medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, mental health professional, dentist, chiropractor, and a pharmacist.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and many people do not have consistent access to all of the medical professionals listed above.

Most people simply cannot afford the team of medical professionals described above, and others are simply not aware of the realistic necessity.

Naturopathy vs. Homeopathy

There is a persistent preconceived notion that naturopathy and homeopathy are one in the same; they are not.

Homeopathy is a distinct form of medicine, and naturopathy is a much broader term that encompasses homeopathy.

Homeopathy is just one part of naturopathy, and naturopathy also includes clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, physical medicine, counseling, nutritional healing, ayurvedic medicine, reflexology, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, etc.

The basic difference between the two is that homeopathy relies solely on the homeopathic approach, whereas naturopathy relies on several approaches and treatment, one of which is homeopathy.

What Exactly is the Homeopathic Approach?

Homeopathy is based on the notion that certain substances that cause symptoms of illness in healthy individuals, will have a curative effect for sick people who display the same symptoms.

Homeopathy prescribes that the substances given to the sick individual, needs to be introduced in highly diluted amounts. This process is known as the Principle of Similars.

The process works somewhat like immunization, where a substance that causes a person's illness is introduced into the body in order to prevent disease. However homeopathic medicines have no relationship to the disease in question, but rather the symptoms in question.

Homepoaths do not need a college degree, but they are comprehensively trained - in contrast, Naturopaths are required to complete a university degree

Naturopathic Medical Doctors (NMD) or Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) are an innovative class of integrative medical physicians that are currently being educated in the 7 accredited Naturopathic Medical Schools across the U.S.

NDs are required to complete a baccalaureate degree (Bachelor's Degree), and a comprehensive, 4-year graduate level medical school program that focuses on naturopathic modalities.

- Disclaimer -

Although I do not prefer the pharmaceutical based direction of traditional medicine, I do recognize its irrefutable value. Nothing can replace scientific evidence, and traditional medicine has made incredible advances that add to the quality of human life. I do not believe that anyone should replace a traditional medical doctor with a naturopathic doctor; I believe they should work in tandem with each other.


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